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Christopher Pollard (1771-1841)

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Christopher Pollard
Sex: Male
Birth: Sancreed, Cornwall, England
Baptism: 10/2/1771 Sancreed, Cornwall
Death: 22/11/1841 Drift, Sancreed Cornwall
Father: John Pollard
Mother: Lydia Neckervis
Spouse/Partner: Susannah Roberts
Marriage: 5/10/1795 Sancreed, Cornwall

Christopher Pollard was baptised in Sancreed, Cornwall in February 1771, the son of John and Lydia Pollard (nee Neckervis).

Death of Father

Christopher's father John died and was buried in Madron on 15th July 1775, when Christopher was only 4 years old. His mother was pregnant at the time of the death and Christopher's sister Jennifer was born four months later. How his mother raised Christopher and his three siblings without remarrying is currently unknown, but it is possible that Christopher's future activities developed as a result.

Marriage

Christopher married Susannah Roberts in Sancreed in 10th February 1795, some 6 months after his brother John had married in the same church. Witnesses to their marriage were Henry Grose and Phillip Hosken. Neither of the couple were able to write and signed with their mark.

First Smuggling Charge

It is believed that Christopher was a Cornish smuggler. During the 1790s, Christopher the smuggler was charged with obstructing and assaulting revenue officers. This charge is recorded in the Newgate Prison Calendar on 21st November 1799. Part of his prison record describes him as being aged 30 (he was 28), 5 foot 8 inches tall, dark complexion, with brown hair and dark eyes. He was also described as blind in the left eye and of Penzance in Cornwall.

Christopher pollard smuggler 1st conviction 1799

Christopher's first smuggling charge

Christopher fled to Guernsey in order to escape the consequences of his crimes. This is believed to be the reason for the uncertain date of his first son’s birth. Then, in the early months of the Napoleonic War, the need of men for the services and home defence meant that an amnesty was made. Royal Proclamation was made that any smuggler who had fled the country should, provided he was not charged with murder, be permitted to return without fear of arrest, on his entering into bond to refrain from smuggling practices in the future. Christopher signed the bond and returned to Cornwall, but could not escape his smuggling practices.

Second Smuggling Charge

In 1805, he was again charged with smuggling and inciting a riot on a beach where his smuggled goods were being stored. On this occasion, Christopher was found not guilty, the principal witness for the prosecution being a woman of notorious character, who was known to accuse persons of acts as a means of revenge for perceived wrongdoings. The entire trial is described online, from the Old Bailey Transcripts. There is a record of Christopher Pollard in Newgate Prison between 3rd June and July 10th 1805. This is Christopher being held over for his trial at the Old Bailey.

Christopher pollard smuggler indictment 1805

Christopher's second charge

The First and Last Inn

The centre for Christopher’s smuggling activities was the First and Last Inn in Sennen. The village of Sennen is the most westerly in Cornwall. The First & Last Inn is one of the most famous inns in Cornwall, not only due to its location, but because of its notorious reputation, since the 1600s, of being the headquarters of smugglers and wreckers. The inn is thought to have been built about seven centuries ago. The small building next to the inn, now known as the Saddle Rooms, may well have been the housing for the donkeys that would carry lanterns across the clifftops to fool seamen and create many shipwrecks in and around the Cove. There are many suggestions and tales and, because people of every status were involved, so much of the subject was covered up. Smuggling was at its peak at the beginning of the 1800s. Brandy, silk and tea were among the vast range of goods brought in from France. Locals would be warned to face the walls when the smugglers were due to travel through their village, so that, if asked, they were able to say that they had not seen a thing. (A song goes "Four and twenty ponies, trotting in the dark; Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk ...So watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by!") Secret tunnels and passages were dug by smugglers to evade capture by government officials, and the glass-covered well that you will see in the inn, known as Annie's Well, is thought to have been one of these.

Joseph and Annie George ran the inn around this time, and they managed to blackmail the landlord, Dionysius Williams, a wealthy farmer, into letting them live there rent-free, due to their knowledge of his smuggling business. Joseph George also happened to be Williams' smuggling agent. Williams eventually decided to remove them from the inn. This infuriated Annie, who then turned King's evidence against Williams, and he was served with a long term of imprisonment. She did not stop there. Her enemies increased as she turned on others, including Christopher Pollard of Madron (who was found not guilty), the Vingoe family, and Joseph's brother, John George, after a row over a tobacco deal. He is said to have been convicted and hanged for this. The villagers got their revenge on Annie for turning against them. To punish her, they staked her out on the beach at low tide, and as the water rose and the fishing nets pulled her down, Annie drew her last breath. They laid her body to rest in her bedroom before she was then buried in an unmarked grave, in the cemetery, next to the pub.

Surety

A Christopher Pollard acted as surety for a man named Robert Parsons of Madron at the quarter sessions held at Lostwithiel in 1811.

At daughter Mary Ann’s baptism in 1816, Christopher’s residence was recorded as Higher Trereife. His occupation was recorded as labourer.

Third Charge and Birth of Daughter

Christopher was in trouble with the law again on 29th or 30th April 1819. He went to the inn at Penzance to have some beer and paid for the purchase with a counterfeit shilling. He had more coins in his possession to the value of £18 and had used coins for other services. When examined by a goldsmith, they were found to be counterfeit. He was committed to Bodmin Gaol until his trial. The trial occurred in August. Christopher was found guilty and given six months imprisonment, with the extra requirements of finding two sureties for 6 months good behaviour.

Christopher’s imprisonment would have occurred between August 1819 and January 1820. Daughter Elizabeth is recorded as being born in June 1820. Christopher is recorded as her father and living at Luthargwearn on her baptism record yet, if his entire sentence was carried out, he could not possibly be Elizabeth’s father. Further investigation is required to determine if his sentence was later reduced.

Christopher pollard unknown transportation 1820

Christopher's 1820 charge

Final Charge

Christopher may have been convicted for a final time on 13th March 1820 at the Exeter Court in Devon for sacrilege. The charge of sacrilege was for stealing silver plate from the parish church at Buckland Monachorum with one Richard Matters and Francis Williams. I suspect the silver plate was to continue with Christopher’s counterfeit coin activities, and the move to Devon to do this may have been to try and cover his tracks. All three men were sentenced to death, which was then commuted to transportation.

Further investigation needs to be done to determine if this is actually our Christopher, but it is assumed at this stage due to his age and linking in to his previous crime for which he had just been released. It also explains why there were no more children for Christopher and Susannah after 1820, because the Christopher who was changed was sentenced to 14 years transportation. He was assigned to the hulk ‘York’ in Portsmouth harbour but was never transported to Australia. The reason for this is likely to be his health. He was already blind in one eye, but a later prison entry also records him as a ‘Rheumatic’ and his general behaviour as very good. A later record indicates that he was debilitated by bad legs. A record dated from the first quarter of 1828 (8 years into his sentence) indicates that he was now in hospital. A year later, and his bodily state reads ‘debility and varicose veins of the legs’.

Free Pardon

A record in the British National Archives indicates that he served 9 years 5 months of his 14 year sentence and then was granted a free pardon. The pardon was granted on 28th September 1829 at age 58.

1841 census

Christopher is located in the 1841 census for Church Town, Penzance in the parish of Madron as a 70 year old living with the Uren family, farmers. Christopher had no occupation recorded for him. Wife Susan is also in Penzance but at a location called Adelaide, living on her own as a 60 year old washerwoman.

Death

Christopher died on 22nd November 1841 at Drift, Sancreed, a few months after the census was taken. He was 70 years old and recorded as a carrier. Witness and informant to the death was John Pollard, his son, who was recorded as living at Truthwall, St Just. Interestingly, there is no cause of death recorded on his death certificate, so it is unknown exactly how he died.

He was buried on 24th November 1841 in Sancreed, Cornwall.

Death of Wife

Wife Susannah died 5 years later and was buried at Madron on 3rd June 1846. Her residence was Penzance and she was 69 years old.

Name Birth Death
Children of Christopher & Susanna Pollard


Christopher 1795-1798


William 13/10/1799
Madron, Cornwall


John 1/1/1802
St Just in Penzance, Cornwall
10/5/1874
Creswick, Victoria, Australia


Susanna 6/3/1803
Madron, Cornwall


Maria 6/9/1805
Madron, Cornwall


Lydia 27/11/1808
Madron, Cornwall
buried 5/3/1851
buried Madron, Cornwall


Joseph 2/12/1810
Madron, Cornwall


Janifer 5/4/1812
Madron, Cornwall


Mary Ann 25/8/1816
Madron, Cornwall


Job 26/7/1818
Madron, Cornwall
Buried 22/9/1826
Buried Madron, Cornwall


Elizabeth 4/6/1820
Madron, Cornwall


References

  • Family Search - Cornish Parish Registers
  • Cornwall OPC
  • Transcripts from the Old Bailey online
  • The First & Last Inn online
  • Vingoe Cornish Smuggler's Website
  • Genealogy information from Peter Underdown




Footnotes (including sources)

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